Dining out wild style

Americans love to dine out. Each week 83% of us visit “fast food” restaurants and about 68% visit casual dining restaurants (2013 data). We like some variety, eating mostly “American” food, but also Italian, Mexican and Chinese, but we’re generally not adventurous eaters.

All wildlife — 100% — dine out daily. They have no other option. Many animals, especially those that live in close association with humans, eat a variety of foods, but some animals are very particular. These photos show a variety of animals photographed while they were dining out wild style locally.

This presentation was part of an assignment for a photography course I’ve been taking with Heather Angel  (Heather Angel Photography) through My Photo School. Hers is my second of their online courses. I’ve found the assignments challenging and tutors (the school is UK based) very helpful, and I’ve learned a lot from them, plus the course format and timing has been convenient. Since the course is finished, I thought I’d share this with all of you.
A note of caution: Not everyone is a dainty eater and some can be gross (last photo).

PaintedLady2Painted lady butterflies feed on the nectar of a variety of host plants, but they especially like Asteraceae (composite) flowers. Since they live only a few weeks, they have to get a lot of eating pleasure into a very short life. If you look closely, you can see the proboscis (tube mouth) sucking up the flower nectar.

 

SeaOtter CMParsons
Sea otters were thought to be generalists when it came to eating — dining on whatever local invertebrates were handy. Research has shown that individuals have specific tastes and choose their foods based on what they like (as well as what’s available). This sea otter at Elkhorn Slough is eating what looks like an innkeeper worm. I got this shot using a telephoto lens while sitting in a kayak. When photographing wildlife it’s good to mind your manners and not disturb them. Getting close enough to change behaviors is rude, and with marine mammals, it’s illegal.

Sanderling CMParsonsSanderlings eat the small invertebrates they find on or in beach sand. Their comical scurry up and down beaches following the waves is in pursuit of exposed sand crabs or sand fleas. This one seems to have found a meal too big for its bill.

 

 

CedarWaxwing CMParsonsCedar waxwings feed mostly on fruit year-round but also snack on protein-rich insects in the spring and summer. I photographed a group of waxwings dining on pyracantha berries across from my office on a cool November morning. The whole scene appeared fall festive.

 

Albatross CMParsonsThe seagoing black-footed albatross is a predator that catches flying fish and their eggs, as well as squid. However, like most of us, they don’t pass up a free meal. A group of albatrosses came upon (or were attracted to) a harbor porpoise killed by a group of orcas (killer whales). On a whale-watching trip, we happened upon the albatrosses. The orcas took only a bite out of the porpoise (you can see the porpoise’s blowhole). This gave the albatrosses access to a large amount of fresh meat, and the whale-watchers access to a feeding fest.

Dining out is different for everyone, as you can see.
If a photographer is diligent, patient and knows wildlife, she (or he) can capture great photos of locals enjoying a wild meal.

About Chris Parsons

A science writer/educator exploring and sharing nature with words and photos to connect, inspire and conserve.
This entry was posted in California coastline, Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dining out wild style

  1. Gunta says:

    Fun facts. I love learning about the wildlife tidbits you serve up. (Not to stretch the metaphor too far!) O_o

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